Publisher: Harcourt (Thomas Allen and Son)
From Goodreads: "Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?
Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew."
While this book is not the most unique of this nature, angels versus demons, that I have read before (comparable to Lauren Kate's "Fallen" series and Lisa Desrocher's "Personal Demons" series) that I have read before I still found it to be extremely enjoyable (in fact, once I started it I literally couldn't put it down, this book took me less time to read than 2 of my most highly anticipated books of 2012, despite being just as long, if not longer, than them). I think that the main contributing factors as to why I enjoyed it so much were author Aimee Agretsi's prose, the world-building and the likeable characters.
Aimee described everything in such minute detail- from the characters clothing/ uniforms, to plates of food, setting- though she did so in an enlightening and rather upbeat way, not once did I find her descriptions to be boring. Aimee truly has a way with words unlike any other author I can ever recall reading before.
Futhermore, I would have thought that because the large majority of this book takes place within the confines of the Lexington Hotel that I would quickly tire of it, finding the setting to be too redundant and the likes of, however, I didn't find that to be the case whatsoever. Every time I thought that there surely couldn't be another component of the hotel, there was- from the tunnels both beneath and below Haven's room, to the Pit to Alcatraz. Furthermore, I also really enjoyed the historical aspect to it (the Al Capone aspect)- I found it to be quite educational without feeling educational.
I really liked Haven, which I found to be quite surprising as female characters typically make very little to no impact upon me (I oftentimes find them to be too underdeveloped, too dependent upon the males in their lives, and the likes of)- Haven almost solely propelled the story by herself (she had a good head on her shoulders and was extremely selfless). Furthermore, I REALLY liked Lance which I also find surprising as in almost every case I root for the female character to be with the 'new guy' rather than her friend, the boy she has previously known (for instance, Jace over Simon in Cassie Clare's "Mortal Instruments" series, Dimitri over Mason in Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" series, etc.). Why I rooted for Lance over Lucian was that I found him to be so much more real, genuine and approachable.
All in all, I believe this to be a stunning debut from author Aimee Agresti, she is an author that I think that we should all keep our eyes on. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for Haven and the gang next!
I received this book from the publisher to read and review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.
Memorable lines from the book:
"Since I can't be with you, since you won't have me, I will do everything I can to help you beat them, even if it kills me in the process" (pg. 409).
"You make me want to be better than I am" (pg. 412).
"It's a funny thing- the more time you spend with someone, the more they change in your eyes. You find yourself studying everything about them, the shape of their face and the way their lips curl when they say certain words, their tics. The smallest things like that can become fascinating, And then it can catch you off-guard when you realize how much you've learned from countless hours with this person- hours that ticked by without your even noticing- and all of a sudden you know them as well as your closest friends. You know when he's going to adjust his glasses and when he's going to put his hands in his pockets or when he's going to be still watching you when you've looked away" (pg. 447).